OUR CRUCIAL SPRING CAMPAIGN IS NOW UNDERWAY
Please donate now to keep the mission and independent journalism of Common Dreams strong.
To donate by check, phone, or other method, see our More Ways to Give page.
Patty Lovera or Erin Greenfield (202) 683-2500
"The Bush administration has been working hard in its last weeks to roll back consumer protections, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision to finalize an inadequate rule for country-of-origin labeling is no exception. Today, USDA released its final rule for mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and several kinds of nuts, and it includes a massive loophole that will allow large quantities of food to go without labeling.
"Given the recent scandals about the safety of imported food, it is unacceptable that the rule was approved with an overly broad definition for which foods are 'processed.' This definition exempts from labeling over 60 percent of pork, the majority of frozen vegetables, an estimated 95 percent of peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts, and multi-ingredient fresh produce items such as fruit salads and salad mixes. It is inexcusable to exempt so much food from this basic labeling requirement just because one ingredient has been added or because something has been roasted or cooked.
"The Bush Administration is using a trade challenge by Canada and Mexico as an excuse for weakening a domestic labeling program that is hugely popular with U.S. consumers and producers. U.S. consumers' access to vital information about their food should not be subject to the whims of our trading partners. Consumers have a right to know where their food comes from and USDA should be standing up for those rights, not caving into pressure from our trading partners.
"According to a November 2008 poll, 95 percent of consumers believe that processed or packaged food should be labeled by their country of origin. USDA should have listened to the majority of American consumers and dramatically limited the use of the exemption for processed foods so that the consumers and U.S. farmers receive the most possible benefit from country-of-origin labeling. Now it is time for Congress and President-elect Obama to get to work to undo the damage done by this last-minute rule from the Bush administration and close the loopholes that leave too much food out of labeling requirements."
Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.(202) 683-2500
"It is atrocious that yet another family has to mourn their child because of our collective inability to fix our broken immigration system," lamented one activist in response to the death of Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez.
A coalition of migrant advocacy groups on Monday mourned and demanded justice for an 8-year-old Central American girl who died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody earlier this month.
The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign for asylum rights remembered Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez, an 8-year-old girl who came to the United States with her Honduran parents, following her death on May 17 after CBP agents "neglected to heed her parent's requests for medical assistance," according to the coalition.
"Anadith deserves to be alive today," said #WelcomeWithDignity interim campaign manager Bilal Askaryar. "Border Patrol staff ignored the minimum safeguards for protecting the lives in their custody."
"Anadith's parents should be preoccupied with helping their 8-year-old daughter prepare for her new life in the United States and making the journey to meet her aunt in New York," Askaryar added. "Instead, they are grieving an unspeakable tragedy and trying to raise money to take Anadith's body to their new home with them."
\u201cNew details regarding the preventable death of an 8-year-old girl in CBP custody last week show that the child\u2019s mother repeatedly asked agents to take her daughter to the hospital, but her pleas were ignored. Anadith had a history of heart problems and sickle cell anemia.\ud83e\uddf5\ud83d\udc47\ud83c\udffe\u201d— The Young Center (@The Young Center) 1684623052
Reyes, who suffered a congenital heart condition and sickle cell anemia, was a Panamanian citizen who traveled with her Honduran parents and her two older siblings to the southern U.S. border at Brownsville, Texas. The family was detained by CBP agents on May 9 and held for more than a week.
On May 14, Reyes' mother Mabel Álvarez took the child to a treatment area after she complained of abdominal pain, nasal congestion, and a cough, CBP said. Reyes tested positive for Influenza and was given medications including Tamiflu and Zofran. CBP said she was also given acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Reyes and her family were then transported to a CBP facility in Harlingen, Texas, which is "designated for cases requiring medical isolation for individuals diagnosed with or closely exposed to communicable diseases," according to the agency.
Medical records show that Álvarez took Reyes to the Harlingen station's medical facility three times on May 17. On the last visit, Reyes appeared to be having a seizure. After her body went limp and she began bleeding from the mouth, medical staff started CPR and CBP had the girl rushed to Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. She was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
"They killed my daughter, because she was nearly a day-and-a-half without being able to breathe," Álvarez claimed in an interview with the New York Daily News. "She cried and begged for her life and they ignored her. They didn't do anything for her."
"They never listened to me just because I am an immigrant," Álvarez said in a separate interview with Noticias Telemundo. "We want this not to go unpunished. We don't want this to happen to any other child."
\u201cHumanitarian reception for asylum seeking families, not jail/detention/custody, is what most countries offer with far less resources to those seeking protection. This was preventable. These policies are reprehensible and must end. #RestoreAsylum #WelcomeWithDignity @POTUS\u201d— Christina Asencio (@Christina Asencio) 1684642426
#WelcomeWith Dignity members from numerous advocacy groups joined Reyes' family in demanding justice.
"We are heartbroken to learn of another child's tragic death in government custody. No child should be locked in a jail, no matter where they were born," said Jennifer Anzardo Valdes, deputy director at Americans for Immigrant Justice.
"There is a long andwell-documented history of systemic abuse and mistreatment of children in CBP custody," she added. "In a landscape barren of rights for unaccompanied children, babies, and children coming to the United States with their parents, it is imperative that these vulnerable individuals are greeted with compassion and respect as they seek refuge and a better life in the United States. How many more children must die for CBP to effectuate change?"
Vanessa Cárdenas, executive director at America's Voice, said that "it is atrocious that yet another family has to mourn their child because of our collective inability to fix our broken immigration system."
"Our hearts are with her family, and tens of thousands of other families whose pursuit of a better life ends in tragedy," she added. "The CBP needs to learn from this tragedy and take the necessary steps to ensure it doesn't happen again."
\u201cCBP is an agency that should have nothing to do with children. No child should ever die in government custody again, and no parent should have their pleas for help be ignored as they watch their child's condition worsen. \n\nOur hearts go out to Anadith's family and loved ones.\u201d— Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (@Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project) 1684790817
Reyes is the first known migrant child to die in CBP custody during the Biden administration. At least two other Honduran minors—17-year-old Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza and a 4-year-old "medically fragile" girl—have died in U.S. custody in recent weeks.
The children's deaths come as the Biden administration rolls out controversial migrant policies following the expiration of Title 42, which was invoked by both Biden and his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, in order to deport millions of asylum-seekers under the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It is cruel that another set of parents had to beg the CBP for medical help for their child and then watch her die because of CBP negligence," argued Ronnate Asirwatham, director of government relations for #WelcomeWithDignity member Catholic Social Justice. "We call on the Biden administration to end this cruelty and to swiftly end the practice of long-term CBP custody for immigrants."
"We encourage the IPCC to maintain its credibility by taking steps to ensure that Big Agriculture and the global meat industry have no influence over future reports."
As the United Nations marked International Day for Biological Diversity on Monday, advocacy groups and activists underscored the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the Earth's climate, while urging a leading U.N. panel to rebuff efforts by the meat and dairy industries to water down key processes and publications.
In recent letter to Hoesung Lee, who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 98 groups and individuals noted how the IPCC in 2021 removed language from its Sixth Assessment Report underscoring the urgency of reducing meat consumption—especially in developed nations—and shifting to a plant-based diet as a crucial means of combating the climate emergency.
"The provision was reportedly heavily contested—and actively lobbied against—by the global meat industry via Brazil and
Argentina's delegations," the letter states. "Our organizations, representing millions of individuals who are concerned about the future of our planet, are deeply troubled by the potential influence of the meat industry's years-long campaign of interference on any climate recommendations that include plant-based diets as a solution."
\u201cLast week, RDP and 80+ allies sent a letter to the IPCC demanding that it boldly uplift climate science & defend the public interest \u2014 even & especially when it conflicts with the private interests of notorious super-polluters like the global meat industry https://t.co/HebhKYsxdS\u201d— Revolving Door Project (@Revolving Door Project) 1684768855
"We are writing to urge the IPCC to fully recognize the scientific evidence that shows the role of food and agriculture in driving the climate crisis and to ensure that future reports specifically highlight plant-based diets as a key climate strategy," the letter states. "Furthermore, we encourage the IPCC to maintain its credibility by taking steps to ensure that Big Agriculture and the global meat industry have no influence over future reports."
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture produces 16.5% of global greenhouse emissions. On its own, the global livestock industry—which emits the methane equivalent of 3.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide annually—would be the world's third-largest greenhouse polluter.
Nearly one-third of Earth's ice-free land is currently used for livestock production. Beef production alone is responsible for more than 40% of the world's tropical deforestation, while a single quarter-pound beef burger requires the equivalent of 460 gallons of water to produce.
\u201cYour regular reminder that beef has a huge climate impact and we should try and eat less of it. https://t.co/lhxbNSRtRL\u201d— Zeke Hausfather (@Zeke Hausfather) 1683150459
The letter continues:
Meat and dairy industry actors have long obfuscated the negative climate impacts of their practices while putting up roadblocks against healthy and necessary regulations. In fact, the industry's tactics seem to be modeled on the fossil fuel playbook, using its tremendous lobbying power to pressure lawmakers to prevent regulations.
While the IPCC has historically managed to recommend plant-based diets, mention of plant-based diets was notably lacking from this year's report. The scientific community and the public at large deserve to have the IPCC's recommendations be unbiased, untainted, and undiluted by interference from industries that are financially incentivized to undermine science. The IPCC's recommendations would be more powerful and more effective with the assurance that there was no interference [from] industry lobbyists and political actors who prioritize their industry over the common good.
The letter's signatories recommend "avoiding meat and dairy products" as "the single-biggest way to reduce an individual's environmental impact on the planet."
According to the letter, if the world's biggest meat-eaters limited their beef intake to 1.5 hamburgers per week, "they could
avoid about 5.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year—twice the annual emissions of India."
\u201cIt's the #InternationalBiodiversityDay!\nIndustrial agribusiness boosted by generous subsidies produces plenty of #meat. Meat production requires large areas & takes space from wild nature.\nSo let's eat less meat, and help to revive #biodiversity!\n#BiodiversityDay #forests #beef\u201d— Seppo (@Seppo) 1684752831
Additionally, "if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would have the same environmental impact as taking 7.6 million cars off the road."
"We urge you to take steps to prevent both any potential future interference by the meat and dairy industries, and the appearance of such interference, in a manner that could weaken these necessary recommendations around the urgent need to reduce meat consumption and production," the letter concludes. "The world is counting on the IPCC to communicate the most accurate science and most effective solutions for the safekeeping of our planet's future."
"All Asian Americans will feel the stigma and the chilling effect created by this Florida law, just like the discriminatory laws did to our ancestors more than a hundred years ago."
Accusing Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of enacting an unconstitutional law that would not have been out of place at the turn of the last century, a group of Chinese American immigrants on Monday filed a lawsuit against the state over S.B. 264, which restricts most Chinese citizens from purchasing homes in Florida.
The law is set to take effect on July 1, but the plaintiffs and the groups representing them—including the ACLU, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA), and the ACLU of Florida—hope to block the measure in the courts.
"Florida's discriminatory property law is unfair, unjustified, and unconstitutional," said Ashley Gorski, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project. "Everyone in the United States is entitled to equal protection under our laws, including citizens of other countries. If S.B. 264 goes into effect, it will profoundly harm our clients and countless other immigrants in Florida."
DeSantis has said the law is meant to protect the state from the Chinese Communist Party, even though, as the ACLU said, "there is no evidence of national security harm resulting from real estate ownership." Citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Russia, Iran, and North Korea would also be restricted from purchasing homes in Florida.
\u201cThe new law harkens back to the anti-Asian land laws of the past century, which barred Chinese and Japanese immigrants from owning property in many states.\n\nThose laws violated the fundamental right to equal protection \u2014 just like Florida\u2019s does.\u201d— ACLU (@ACLU) 1684779796
The law is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Fair Housing Act, said the ACLU. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing due to national origin and race as well as religion, sex, gender identity, and disability.
The plaintiffs also warned that the law will "cast an undue burden of suspicion on anyone seeking to buy property whose name sounds remotely Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan, or Syrian," and is likely to prompt harassment of Asian American people seeking to buy property.
"All Asian Americans will feel the stigma and the chilling effect created by this Florida law, just like the discriminatory laws did to our ancestors more than a hundred years ago," said Clay Zhu, co-founder of CALDA. "We shall not go back."
Despite DeSantis's claims that the law is meant to protect the state, "The reality will be that any seller, when they see a Chinese name... will think, 'Too much trouble,' and they'll refuse to sell," Echo King, a Chinese American attorney based in Orlando, Florida, toldVox last week.
S.B. 264 harkens back to the so-called "alien land laws" of the early 1900s, which prohibited Chinese and Japanese immigrants from becoming landowners. In addition to harming these communities financially, the laws "severely exacerbated violence and discrimination against Asian communities living in the United States" before they were finally struck down by courts and legislatures across the country.
"We have repeatedly seen how policies in the name of national security have harmed Asian Americans—from immigration restrictions, to the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in camps, and post-9/11 surveillance," said Bethany Li, legal director for AALDEF. "Failing to call out the discriminatory impacts means our community will continue to experience racism, violence, and the erosion of rights."
DeSantis is the first Republican governor to sign a discriminatory housing bill targeting Chinese people into law, but more than a dozen state legislatures have proposed similar bills.